Cheese Substitutes 101

August 08, 2011

Trying to cut the cheese from your diet, but are not sure about cheese substitutes? Here's SupermarketGuru's 101

What are Cheese Substitutes? Cheese substitutes are made from grains, rice or soybeans to create the look, texture, and taste of dairy-based cheese with similar protein and complex carbohydrates.

How to Buy: Buy with the intention to eat by itself or eat with sandwiches or salads. Not a reliable product for recipes that call for baking, broiling or other ways of melting cheese.

How to Read the Label: Note expiration dates. Ingredients vary, so read labels carefully, especially if you are allergic to nuts or soy products (isolated soy proteins, tofu). Some contain sugar and maltodextrin or high amounts of sodium. Some cheese substitutes even contain casein a protein from dairy milk.

Imitation: These look like cheese, taste like cheese but their texture is slightly oily as most are made with partially hydrogenated oils. May contain non-dairy lactic acid. Available in cheddar, mozzarella, and Jack cheese “flavors” or a medley of all three.

Soy Cheese: Good for those who enjoy soy products and want good cheese flavor in plain, cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and some hard cheese flavors. They are lighter in texture and are not good for melting, but good in sandwiches and salads.

Almond or other Nut Milk Cheeses: Bland and slightly nutty; good for snacking and in salads or sandwiches.

How to Use: Work best in sandwiches or salads, or eat alone. Melting point is a challenge and may become rubbery or overly oily. Some imitation cheeses will have suggested use on label, so follow manufacturers suggestions for best experience.

How to Store: Refrigerate in a tightly sealed package; do not freeze.

Health Benefits: Do not contain cholesterol. Generally lower in fat than real cheese and lower in calories, about 22 to 90 per 4” square slice.

Smarter Shopping: For best texture use products made with casein proteins or rice.